Visual Framing as an Indispensable Component of Framing Research: A Case Study on Environmental Justice

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Abstract

Environmental justice (EJ) is an often debated ‘narrative’ with regard to climate change: the ‘South’ will suffer earlier and most severely due to the values of the ‘Western’ development model (Čapek, 1993). While previous research sheds light on the verbal EJ frames in mainstream and alternative media (e.g., Hopke, 2012), little is known about the visual mode, despite of its particularly pervasive character (Messaris & Abraham, 2001). Frames are in essence multimodal: The visual and verbal modes tend to work in tandem and therefore ought to be approached as such (Coleman, 2010; Dan & Ihlen, 2011). The ‘frame package’ - an organizing theme (culturally shared narrative), framing devices and reasoning devices - allows for the reconstruction of multimodal frames in texts (Brantner, Geise & Lobinger, 2012; Coleman, 2010; Rodriguez & Dimitrova, 2011; Van Gorp, 2006). Drawing on these assumptions, we conduct a multimodal qualitative framing analysis (strongly inspired by the multimodal CDA analysis of Chouliaraki (2006)). Our corpus comprises articles of three Belgian mainstream newspapers (n = 532) and one alternative outlet (n = 194) (period February 28, 2012 to February 28, 2014). Our previous research demonstrates that verbal EJ mainstream frames tend to represent ‘Western’ actors as major agents, while reducing the ‘South’ to the role of passive victims. Alternative media more often reverse these roles. Highlighting the interaction of the visual and verbal modes, we will investigate the reinforcing and/or contradicting of these verbal patterns by the visual frames (and framing devices). Keywords: visual framing, multimodal framing analysis, climate change frames, environmental justice, mainstream and alternative media Bibliographic information: Renée Moernaut is a Ph.D Student at the Department of Applied Linguistics of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). Her research addresses the visual-verbal framing of climate change in mainstream and alternative media. References Brantner, C., Geise, S., & Lobinger, K. (2012). Fractured Paradigm? Theories, Concepts and Methodologies of Visual Framing Research: A Systematic Review. Paper presented at the annual conference of the International Communication Association, London. Čapek, S. (1993). The “Environmental Justice” Frame: A Conceptual Discussion and an Application. Social Problems, 40(1), 5-24. Chouliaraki, L. (2006). The Spectatorship of Suffering. London: Sage. Coleman, R. (2010). Framing the Pictures in Our Heads. Exploring the Framing and Agenda-Setting Effects of Visual Images. In P. D’Angelo, & J. A. Kuypers (eds), Doing News Framing Analysis. Empirical and Theoretical Perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge. Dan, V., & Ihlen, Ø. (2011). Towards the Empirical Assessment of Complex Frames: A Method for Combining Analysis of Verbal and Visual Elements. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Boston, MA. Hopke, J. E. (2012). Water Gives Life: Framing an Environmental Justice Movement in the Mainstream and Alternative Salvadoran Press. Environmental Communication 6, 365-382. Messaris, P., & Abraham, L. (2001). The Role of Images in Framing News Stories. In S. D. Reese, O. H. Gandy, & A. E. Grant (eds.), Framing Public Life: Perspectives on Media and Our Understanding of the Social World (pp. 215-226). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Rodriguez, L., & Dimitrova, D. V. (2011). The levels of visual framing. Journal of Visual Literacy, 30(1), 48-65. Van Gorp, B. (2006). Framing asiel. Indringers en slachtoffers in de pers [Framing asylum. Intruders and victims in the press]. Leuven: Acco.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings 4th International Visual Methods Conference
Publication statusPublished - 16 Sep 2015
Event4th International Visual Methods Conference - University of Brighton, Brighton, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Sep 201518 Sep 2015

Conference

Conference4th International Visual Methods Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityBrighton
Period16/09/1518/09/15

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